Saving Scorched Chili

February 7, 2007 63 Comments

How Do I Save A Pot of Chili I Just Burned

With all the emails I receive asking various cooking questions, I thought it would be fun to post some of the responses in a new section to my web site called Ask A Chef.  Many times when I get a question from you, I send it to one of my chef friends for their advice. Between their answer and my own thoughts on a subject, I respond. This way you get advise from a professional chef with a home cooks point of view.

Becky wrote and asked, “Is there anyway to save scorched food, not totally scorched but just a little, enough to taste. I made a great pot of chili, left the room to answer the phone and came back to scorched food. Any tips would be great.”

After conferring with Chef Ricco, here’s how I responded:

First of all, don’t go back and stir the bottom of the pan and try to scrape all the burnt stuff off. Instead, get another pan; transfer all the non-burnt chili into the pan being careful to leave any burnt chili. Now you can continue cooking but try not to take your “eye off the ball.”

If you scraped the bottom of the pan in an attempt to rescue the original batch, you might as well throw it all out and start over since there is no way you are going to get rid of the burnt flavor.


A few things you can do to prevent this from happening are being sure you are using a quality pot with heavy bottom. Cheaper pots typically have hot spots and don’t distribute the heat as well resulting in burning food. A well made soup pot or stock pot will have excellent distribution of heat and a bottom heavy enough to prevent “some” burning.

You can also try lowering the heat. This way you don’t have to watch as careful, but you still want to be paying attention.  If you can’t adjust the heat on your stove low enough, try purchasing a stovetop heat diffuser. This simple gadget can help modify the strength of the heat and prevent scorching foods.

And in Becky’s case, she may consider having a phone installed in the kitchen but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea if it distracts her while she is cooking.

Last modified on Tue 21 October 2014 11:06 am

Comments (63)

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  1. Jon Bloomfield says:

    I found a little trick in a curry recipe book that said if your food sticks to the bottom of the pan to take it off the heat for a few minutes and then try stiring it and i’ve found that it comes off the bottom quite easily altough left for to long and all you get is a horrible burnt taste. I’d only reccomend this if you’ve got the heat to high or it had been left for a short while.

  2. ROBIN says:


  3. Ingrid says:

    I have a slightly burnt taste to one of my mega pots of chili (one burner on my ceramic top stove heats in spurts even on the lowest setting)…I managed to scrape the bottom before I realized what had happened. Any thoughts? I had been cooking a vegetarian chili, wondering now if I add more ingredients and meat if I can save it somewhat. (Planning to serve vegetarian and meat chili tomorrow, was going to add onions and meat to one of the two pots today)…It’s hard to tell if a little bit of burn is too much burn at this point. Why do some recipes call for adding vinegar?

  4. KrazyKook says:

    Adding vinegar helps with the gas that all the beans will cause. Sounds weird, I know, but it works.

  5. Bob says:

    Great tips. I usually just eat the foods with the burnt taste or throw them away! I will be moving on now. Thanks

  6. Johan says:


    Thanx for these tips! This is something I never thought of doing.

    Chef Johan

  7. Jennifer says:

    There is no such thing as saving scorched chili! However, there is a simple way of doctoring it up. I am the infamous chili burner so, I always pick up an extra package of chili seasoning EVERY time that I plan on cooking chili. You can strain the chili and rinse with cool water. This will completely get rid of the burnt taste. Then you just put it back in the pan, add water and more chili seasoning. I also add a teaspoon of liquid smoke to help! This really really works!

  8. Vicky says:

    i saved a pot of chili that was sticking to the bottom of the casserole . I transfered it to my slow cooker and added a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter, yes peanut butter! And WOW the burnt smell and taste went away, couldn’t believe it!

    • Nevey says:

      I burnt my Chili I knew not to scrape the bottom and transfer to the clean pot. However, the burnt and bitterness taste was still there. Finally, after trying different things I turned to the internet in hopes of something that would take the burnt taste out. This trick helped so far (took most of the burnt bitterness out) but we will see come dinner time if it worked. My son is pretty picky about taste and texture of things he eats (more so then me and my husband). If it passes him as tolerable then I have found a winner.

  9. Starpetals says:

    Peanut butter really works, tried this last nite and even after stirring the burnt flavor into the chili, its now tolerable.

  10. Sarah says:

    Great ideas for chili, but what about green beans? Back to back to back phone calls, and trying to catch the weather coming our way from Ike and I got home canned grean beans burnt! (And my daughter and family are invited to dinner!)

  11. Susan says:

    I accidently made my chili way too spicy – is there anyway to fix this? I thought I read somewhere that adding a potato can help when you’ve added too much spice?

  12. Peggy Upchurch says:

    You guys and the Internet are incredible! Made a double batch of easy bean chili for a large group of friends and burned it on the new gas stove. Will try the peanut butter

  13. annette says:

    I was heartbroken when i burned a double batch of turkey-chili, but i tried the peanut butter and it worked really well!! i also added more chili powder, a couple squirts of ketchup and a little Frank’s hot sauce. you should have seen my daughter’s face when i told her about the peanut butter!! couldn’t taste it at all!! THANK YOU!!!

  14. Shawn says:

    Mayonnaise and lemon pepper… I know sounds strange .. but the lemon in the lemon pepper and the mayo, combined with the creaminess of the mayo really counteracts the bitterness.

    1tbsp. Mayo per 1 1/2 lbs. of chili
    1/2 tsp lemon pepper

    • SJackson says:

      Did the mayo, had no lemon pepper, so I added pepper and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice. Seems to have worked. Thank you!

  15. Shawn says:

    P.S. just make sure you sir in the mayo very rapidly or it will curdle.

  16. Lois Brinkmeier says:

    I accidentially scorched the potatoe soup I was making for a soup supper. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the burnt taste.

  17. jennifer says:

    ok.. i am amazed. doing a fundraiser chili supper tomorrow and scorched the chili. googled scorched food. if peanut butter works you are geniuses…

  18. Randal says:

    Be careful of the peanut butter. There are people who have allergic reactions to anything peanut. If you use that technique you should inform your guest. Some people can not even be in the same room with anything peanut related.

  19. Maria says:

    My husband is allergic to peanut butter so I tried sunflower butter (which is similar to peanut butter). It worked!! I was very skeptic, but I didn’t want to throw away a huge pot of vegetarian chili. We could not believe we saved it.

  20. Kat says:

    My chili is too spicy.. any way I can fix it?

  21. Kjerstin says:

    Kat – if you still have the spicy chili – peel and slice a RAW potato, in big chunks and add that to the chili while heating it up. The raw potato will absorb a lot of the spice. Take the potato chunks out before serving. This actually blends the spice nicely too!

  22. Kjerstin says:

    The Raw Potato may also help get rid of the scorched taste in Chili.

  23. Jennifer B says:

    Peanut butter really works! I tried it on a pot of burned chili and it took most of the burned taste away. Add a few tablespoons to a large pot or a teaspoon per bowl.

  24. Thomas Cornelius says:

    It was my time to shine for Sunday Football. I went all out for snacks, zoom zooms and wham whams. I had over $50.00 worth of chili cooking in a huge stock pot, in the excitement of the first game, it happened. The chili wasn’t stirred in time and it was scorched. My wife jumped onto and found this blog which suggested to add a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter. I was doubtful and didn’t serve the chili. But today I refused to let my funds go to waste and reluctantly tried the remedy. To my surprise and great delight, IT WORKED! ! Thanks for saving my chili and my money. My wife, son and I had a great Tuesday night chili party!! The scorched smell slightly lingered, but it didn’t taste burned to any of us. Again, thanks for updating this awesome blog with the helpful peanut butter remedy.

    You are very welcome and thanks for telling us your story. – RG

  25. Natalie says:

    Well, I tried the peanut butter in my scorched chili and it worked! The tip saved a gallon of chili and 5#s of meat! Had to readjust the seasonings as the PB made the chili bland but that isn’t a problem.

    Hi Natalie, thanks for sharing your experience. – RG

  26. peg says:

    I was making dinner for a friend and I burned a huge pot of chili. I carefully removed the portion which wasn’t burned. It tasted so, so, but left a bitter after taste. I decided to try the peanut butter—and was delighted to discover it worked very well!

    Hi Peg, peanut butter to the rescue again. Thanks for sharing your results. – RG

  27. Tawnie says:

    Does anyone have any ideas to take the sweetness out of chili. I used different tomatoes this time I guess that was it, no clue.. Do you think the potato will work? Or will it take away the salt and spices as well?

    Great question. It could be the tomatoes or possibly your onions or maybe tomato paste. I have read that dry mustard added a little at a time can help with sweetness. Also, you can try unsweetened cocoa powder which is not sweet. – RG

  28. Tawnie says:

    I do not have dry mustard, do you think regular mustard will work?

    Hi Tawnie, not sure since I have never tried it but only read it may help. You may want to try taking a little portion of the chili and add a small amount of regular mustard and see if that works. If it does, you can try it with the whole batch. – RG

  29. Tom Coleman says:

    I will let you know how the slightly burnt chili with the one tablespoon of organic creamy peanut butter does because I’m in a chili cook off tonight at Cross Pointe Church in Tyler, TX. I have made my chili with bison/buffalo. All for now and have a blessed day.

    Hi Tom, hope you don’t need peanut butter in your chili cook off. Good luck – RG

  30. Shaine Dunaway says:

    I cooked a huge pot of chili and was watching it close as my huge pot has gotten very thin over the years. My phone rang and took me away for 2 mins and it started to scorch!! I was so mad at my self. It wasn’t just a waste of food but had no time to make more dinner. Got on here and read the tips about the peanut butter and it worked great. Added more spices to it just to be sure and it is great now!! Thanks you guys saved my chilli!!

    Hi Shaine, you are very welcome and I’m glad it worked out for you. I know from experience and should know better, but often walk away from the stove when the kids are screaming or our new puppy has to go out. It is a mistake we all make and in some cases, like this one, there is something that can be done to prevent a complete mess up. Thanks for commenting. – RG

  31. Joyce says:

    Tonight I made three batches of chili for a super bowl party and my one pot burnt one of the batches a bit. I saved it by combining a few tricks I found on various websites including this one: For one batch 1/8 cup of white vinegar, 3-4tbsp of peanut butter, 1 cup of salsa, 1/2 to 1 tbsp of chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. It worked great. Thanks for all the great suggestions.

    You are welcome Joyce and thanks for your tip. – RG

  32. Roxy says:

    I have been creating different chili receipies for years – the one thing I found was brown sugar! Hides the burnt taste and sweetens the pot – everone will ask you what you used for seasoning. They won’t even pickup on the fact it’s a little scorched.

  33. Kathie says:

    i hope the peanut butter works. I burnt a huge pan of chili last night (LOL glad I’m not the only one) I can’t see wasting it so thanks for the pointers!!!I will let everyone know.

    Thanks Kathie, let me know – RG

  34. Erica says:

    Can you taste the peanut butter in the chili?

    • ron says:

      yes slightly, but I maybe biased because I added it. my daughter tried it and couldn’t tell in fact she asked for more.

  35. M says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Peanut butter worked for my pot of pinto beans scorched as well. So appreciative!!!

  36. Doug says:

    I also got lost a lil while reheating chili I had better than eight hours invested in making. I was prepping jars for canning and inadvertently turned the heat up higher than I thought. It scorched and I was frustrated thanks the peanut butter really does the trick. Having made chili for over twenty years and never doing this I was very pleased for all the help online. Excellent!!! Thanks

  37. thomi says:

    You Totally saved the day!!! But you might need to increase the heat because it also mellowed the chili out. Thanks For Saving Game Day!

  38. Maggie says:

    I burnt a HUGE pot of chili last night. I poured it into a new pot right away. I’ll try the peanut butter trick tonight. But how much peanut butter should I use per gallon of chili? How high should I turn the burner and how long should I cook it? OR should I only try a pint of chili at a much peanut butter per pint/ How long to cook it and how high should I set the burner to? Please help!

    Hi Maggie, I don’t think this is an exact science. I would try a little peanut butter at a time but I like your idea of working with a pint at a time. Test it out with a pint and then extrapolate for the rest. How long depends on how much chili and how far along you were in the cooking process. What was the burner set at when you burned it? I would lower it from there and be sure not to walk away from it so you can keep an eye on it. – RG

  39. Dana says:

    Hello, I was planning on making chilli did not get home in time to use crockpot so thought I would try this pressurecooker and was not sure how it would work was afraid it would.sick.and.burn …well it did! I transfered to crockpot added more seasoning but still had that schorched smell.and after taste not good my 5yr old granddaughter would not eat it so I googgle it and saw the reviews about the peanut butter with not other option to throw it out I did it. Low and behold it worked!!! My daughter came over to pick up her kid and had her taste it without telling her she thought the chilli was great not pb taste and even better no schorched taste or smell …who would have thought. The only other thing I have used pb for is to get gum out of hair that works too.

  40. devonda adams says:

    it was my job to bring chilli to my sis house for the gathering we was having christmas eve turn my back a few seconds and burnt my chill i was upset and lost cause it was to late to start over so i started searching found this site read articles over and over and every one mention PB so i tried it u should have seen me jumping up and down it really works:_)my kids are looking at me like im crazy

  41. Fred says:

    I burnt a whole whack of chili and tried the peanut butter remedy and would like to know how long it takes to get the burnt smell/taste out of the pot?

  42. Samantha says:

    I have found that adding some dark chocolate to chili that is too spicy will tame it down, and add depth to the flavor. Add a little at a time so you don’t over do it.

  43. June says:

    Mother in law bought me a new stock pot, and I thought it was going to work so well. Well, it did if the job was to burn my huge pot of chili. I was furious. I stepped away to cater to my daughter who had just hit her head and the whole pot was lost…. or so I thought. I got on here and found so many people saying peanut butter. So I figured its worth a try before I throw it out. I added a little at a time tasting in between and when all was said and done had about 3 tablespoons in. My kids couldn’t even taste the scorched taste and they are very picky. Thank you all for the peanut butter trick. Don’t know how it works, but very glad it does!

    You are very welcome June – RG

  44. Laura says:

    used the Peanut Butter… CANT BELIEVE IT WORKED! I burned the bottom of the pot and black flakes came up into the Chili, I scooped them out… took a long time.. but I did and added the peanut butter ( I melted the PB and then mixed it in) I also masked the burn smell by adding ground Cloves and Cinnamon Sugar! PEOPLE loved it. worked out great.

  45. Helene Montgomery says:

    I burned the heck out of 10 lbs of cubed pork in green chili sauce yesterday. My stove malfunctioned! My big burner would not turn down or shut off, but by the time I realized it, I had burned the chile for over an hour! We finally threw the breaker because the whole stove was so hot. My dish is due at a chili cook-off tomorrow. I’m headed in there to transfer the unstuck portion to a smaller pot and try the peanut butter AND the vinegar. Will do a little at a time and let you know how it goes. My pot did fantastic! It got so hot that when we moved it to another burner it lit up that burners ‘warning, hot burner light’…..

  46. Bev Conlin says:

    I Was Making Ham & Bean Soup Of Course I Burnt It. so I Thought Of My WhiteChicken Chili &Added Cumin. It Worked great. Cuz I Have A New Recipe For Ham &Bean Soup. I Also Added Oregano,Thyme. To Make ItLike My White Chicken Chili

  47. Maryn Ellen says:

    Thank you all so much for the awesome tips for fixing burned chili. I scorched a big pot of Taco Soup and tried using a few tablespoons of peanut butter, a little liquid smoke, a little cumin and vinegar, another 1/2 pkg of Taco Seasoning, another can of black beans….and IT WORKED!! The soup has maybe a hint of scorch taste, but it is hardly noticeable. (Amazingly, you cannot even taste the peanut butter.) Before I added these magic ingredients I would have had to throw it out. Thank you all so much!!

  48. Tacy says:

    I made huli huli chicken in the crockpot left it in over night had to try the peanut butter trick. It work great. Thanks

  49. Ukky Chan says:

    I found the rinsing, then picking out obviously burnt parts (yes I burned it that bad!) and then adding a tiny bit of chipotle along with respicing it with garlic and cumin, covered the burnt taste! Be careful, it’s very spicy. I put most of the tiny can in a tupperware afterwards.

  50. Melissa says:

    Thanks for all the great tips but I found that the one that worked the best was straining off all the sauce and rinsing and then addig tomatoes sauce and seasoning back in. Hope this helps

  51. Tonya says:

    I used brown sugar in scorched chili and it wored like a charm! Thanks Roxy!

  52. shelly says:

    tried the mayo and lemon pepper and IT WORKED!! Thanks 5 gallons of chilli saved

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